College Counseling FAQ
The following is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions about college counseling at Winsor. The information is organized by the following sections: Contacts, and Calendars; Standardized Testing; The College Search; The Application Process. We hope you find this helpful. Feel free to contact us with any additional questions or for further clarification on any of the questions below.
- How do I contact the College Counseling Office or specific Winsor college counselors?
- Whom do I contact for a meeting?
- Which tests will my daughter have to take in order to apply to college?
- What is the PSAT?
- When are the PSATs?
- Who takes the PSATs?
- When will I receive my PSAT scores?
- Is the PSAT important?
- What are the differences between the SAT and ACT?
- When should I take the SATs or ACTs?
- How many times do students take the SATs?
- What about the SAT Subject tests?
- Which Subject Tests to students typically take and when?
- Do all colleges require the same standardized testing and do I have to send scores from every test I have taken?
- Do all colleges require standardized testing?
- How do I send my test scores to colleges?
- What are Advanced Placement (AP) exams and when do they take place?
- Are AP exams required?
- How are AP scores sent to colleges?
The PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) is designed to provide a standardized testing experience for students prior to the SAT. While students can use their scores to help prepare for the SAT, most students will need to start those preparations earlier in order to be ready for late winter or spring test dates.
While PSAT scores are not reported to colleges, they are used for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. High school juniors who score in the top 5% in their states receive a letters of commendation, and those who score in the top 1% nationally become Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. Class VII students of Hispanic descent may qualify for the National Hispanic Recognition Program.
At the conclusion of the Class V year, students who have excelled in biology sometimes take the Biology-E (ecological) Subject Test which focuses on ecology and diversity in organisms. There is also a Biology-M test offered which emphasizes cellular biology and genetics. Winsor’s biology course does not cover all of the topics covered on the Biology Subject Test, so students will need to do additional preparation and should speak with their teachers about how best to prepare.
At the conclusion of the Class VI year, students who have excelled in chemistry and have a solid understanding of Algebra II sometimes take the Chemistry SAT Subject Test. Again, students will need to review additional topics not covered in Winsor’s course to be prepared for this test.
Most SAT Subject Tests are taken at the end of the Class VII year but with the additional of a late summer test date, student may elect to study for subject tests over the summer and test in August. The following tests are most frequently taken by Winsor students:
Physics: In addition to excelling in Winsor’s Physics or Honors Physics course, students taking the Physics SAT Subject Test, should be earning a strong grade in Precalculus.
Math Level 1: includes mostly questions from Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2.
Math Level 2: includes fewer geometry questions and more advanced algebra, as well as precalculus questions. Note: Students interested in engineering, mathematics, or applied science as potential majors should strongly consider the Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test.
English Literature: Winsor’s English classes [and to some degree history courses] with their emphasis on close reading, provide excellent preparation for the Literature SAT Subject Test.
Chinese, French, Spanish or Latin: Students who have completed a fourth year of language study, usually are ready to do well on a language SAT Subject Test.
Please visit Collegeboard.com for explanations of each subject test and mini-practice tests, as well as a calendar of test dates.
An increasing number of colleges and universities are making standardized test scores optional. Others are becoming more flexible with the test scores an applicant can submit for review. Some of the score optional colleges and universities to which Winsor students sometimes apply are:
Bryn Mawr College
College of the Atlantic
College of the Holy Cross
Franklin and Marshall
George Mason University
Hobart & William Smith
Lewis & Clark College
Loyola University, MD
Mt. Holyoke College
New York University
Sarah Lawrence College
University of the South
St. Lawrence University
Wake Forest University
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- When do colleges visit Winsor?
- What should I do if I have rehearsal, class review, or another important obligation when a representative from a college to which I am applying is visiting?
- Who can attend the college info sessions at Winsor?
- When should I start to visit colleges?
- When can I make my first meeting with a college counselor?
- Do you recommend any books for Winsor students and parents about the college search and application process?
Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, Frank Bruni.
The Gatekeepers, Jacques Steinberg, Viking, New York, NY, 2002. A New York Times journalist takes an inside look at how a prestigious university admissions office selects a class over one entire admissions cycle.
Colleges that Change Lives, Loren Pope, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2012.
The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Edward Fiske, Sourcebooks, Naperville, IL, 2018. Widely respected comprehensive resource book presenting college profiles in narrative descriptions.
The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, Yale Daily News staff, St. Martin's Griffin, New York, NY, 2018. Another popular guidebook with profiles, this one written by student journalists.
Letting Go, Sixth Edition: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years, Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger, Harper Perennial, New York, NY, 2016. A sensitive, informative and well-written guide to help parents know what their children are getting into when they leave for college.
Test Prep Books
The Official SAT Study Guide: For the new SAT, The College Board, Henry Holt and Company.
The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests, The College Board, Henry Holt and Company.
The Official ACT Prep Guide, ACT 2018 Edition, Revised and Updated
- What are the components of a typical application?
- What about interviews?
- I have heard about applying “Early.” What does that mean?
- What are the possible responses to an application?
- What should I know about financial aid?
- How do I apply for financial aid?
- When do I have to make a decision about which college I am going to attend?
• High school academic record (including courses taken and grades)
• Standardized test scores
• The quality of the student’s application (usually including an essay)
• School and faculty recommendations
• Extracurricular activities, internship experience, employment
• Special talents and interests
Many colleges also offer some version of an early application round, with application deadlines typically in November and with decisions arriving in December. “Early Decision” asks a student to make a binding commitment to a college. If accepted, the student cancels any other applications and accepts the offer of admission. “Early Action” does not require a student to commit to the college; therefore, she can submit regular decision applications as well.
Many colleges and organizations award non-need-based financial aid as well. Most of these awards or scholarships are based on academic merit, leadership skills or athletic potential. As well, sometimes there are scholarships available from parents’ employers, towns, churches and community organizations such as the Rotary Club or Kiwanis.